alumni news

An Early Introduction to the Booth Network

All it took was a phone call. Paul Donofrio, '90, has a busy life as head of global corporate credit and transaction banking at Bank of America Corp. in New York. But that unexpected call from Booth offered a compelling opportunity to share career and life experiences with the next generation.

On September 19, Donofrio was among more than 50 accomplished alumni who returned for the first-ever Alumni Day, designed to give first-year Full-Time students an early entrée to the Booth network, an introduction that will serve them while they are students and for the rest of their lives.

In panel discussions at Harper Center with small groups of students, Booth alumni answered questions such as: What were your biggest challenges when you first graduated? What do you wish you had done differently in your career?

Alumni Day was inspired by the Alumni and External Relations Committee, the group charged with energizing relations with alumni, the media, and other constituents. The committee recommended that the school give students an introduction to the Booth network early in their tenure, and was organized by Joseph Buck, associate dean for Alumni Affairs and Development, and Stacey Kole, AM '86, PhD '92, clinical professor of economics and deputy dean for the Full-Time Program. "This event leveraged the experience and wisdom of our alumni and showcased a variety of career paths that build upon a Chicago MBA," Kole said.

Student Saburah Wilson said she was impressed to see relationships formed 10 or 20 years ago still thriving. "It is clear that for alumni, the Booth network remains just as strong as it was when they were here as students," Wilson said. "It's encouraging to see that what we have here is built to last."

gargSusan Larson, '80,
vice president of North American sales for LED lighting start-up Soraa Inc., based in the San Francisco area, told students how her Booth education continued to be an asset. The degree enabled her to land a consulting job after graduation and later to raise money to acquire a company. Years later when she worked as a consultant in China, she often was introduced to business associates as a "Booth graduate."

The Booth education also enabled her to shift her career moves to fit changes in her personal life. When she decided to have a family, she left consulting and bought a manufacturer of light fixtures, which gave her the flexibility to set her own hours.

"It's essential to figure out what you like to do, what are your passions," Sunil Garg, AB '89, MBA '00, senior vice president and chief information and innovation officer at the Chicago-based utility Exelon Corp., told the students in one session and warned of the pitfall of FOMO, the fear of missing out. "There will always be someone richer than you, smarter than you," he said. "So what are you chasing? You have to be intentional about what is important."

Garg is a loyal volunteer - he has participated in panel discussions and served as a judge at the Social New Venture Challenge. "I end up learning more and getting more out than I give back," he said. "The energy of the students and the professors revitalizes me."

Donofrio agreed the experience was energizing. "Reconnecting with Booth enriches your life," he said in an interview following his afternoon session. "It's making an investment. You're not sure how the investment will pay off. But if it helps students make better choices, that's enough." - Judith Crown

Learn more about how you can get involved » 

Photo by Anne Ryan


ARA Recipients Get Mentors for the Real World

Chicago Booth named 12 recipients of the 2012 - 13 Alumni Recognition Awards in September. The merit-based $10,000 scholarships go to exemplary second-year students, each of whom is matched with an alumnus who has excelled in his or her field and has agreed to act as a mentor.

"Money is wonderful, but mentors change lives," said award recipient Dane Skillrud. "In 20 years, I know that I will be in a place that I could not have reached without Booth and the ARA."

Recipients and Mentors

Scott Nancarrow with Catharine Carroll, '97, Chicago

John Schultz with Deanie Elsner, '92, executive vice president and president of beverages, Kraft Foods North America, Northfield, Illinois

Philip Yotov with Pedro Faria, '02, managing partner, Tarpon Investimentos, Atlanta

Garrett Monda with Catherine Funston, '93, and Reid Funston, '92, managing director, Reicon Capital LLC, Atlanta

Daniel DeRemigis with Margaret Hardin, '96, president and chief operating officer, Munchkin Inc., North Hills, California

Brian Sabina with Kenneth Ho, '93, managing director, Bank Julius Baer, Hong Kong

Michael Tolleth with Blair Jacobson, '99, managing director, Ares Management LLC, London

Guy Feibish with Bill McLeod, '92, cohead of equity capital markets, Stifel Nicolaus Weisel, San Francisco

Spandan Spandan with Brian Rogove, '08 (AXP-7), chief executive officer, Asia Pacific, Cognita, Singapore

Mingwei Shen with Rob Sivitilli, '96, managing director, J.P. Morgan Securities Inc., head of corporate finance and M&A, Singapore

Dane Skillrud with Emily Stoeckel, '91, chair, The Heico Companies LLC, Chicago

Shivam Srivastava with Kevin Willer, '10 (XP-79), president and CEO, Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, Chicago


High Achievers: Alumni Recognition Award winners from left are Dane Skillrud, Garrett Monda, Mingwei Shen, Philip Yotov, Scott Nancarrow, Shivam Srivastava, Guy Feibish, Michael Tolleth, and Daniel DeRemigis. Front row, from left, Spandan Spandan, John (Joey) Schultz, and Brian Sabina.


Photo by Chris Strong

















A Journey through the Global Village

alonzoGrowing up in Chicago's Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods, Anne Alonzo, '00 (XP-69), stayed close to home for her education. As a teenager, she commuted to the Loop to study shorthand and typing. She then went on to earn degrees at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Chicago-Kent College of Law. However, Chicago was only the beginning of a remarkable journey. Alonzo leveraged her education into a career that placed her front and center of global issues, including international trade, African subsistence farming, and Mexican environmental standards.

In 2011, as vice president of global public policy and corporate affairs at Kraft Foods Inc., Alonzo became the first woman to lead the World Cocoa Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to encourage sustainable cocoa farming and raise farmers' incomes. It represents nearly 100 members constituting more than 85 percent of the global chocolate industry.

Alonzo worked to spotlight the challenges faced by cocoa farmers, such as limited access to capital and low productivity. She forged partnerships to help farmers and strengthen the cocoa industry. During Alonzo's tenure, the World Cocoa Foundation entered into partnership agreements between the US Peace Corps and the cocoa-producing nations of Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire to help address child labor and education problems in those nations. The foundation runs vocational training for out-of-school youth, offers literacy training, and awards scholarships.

Alonzo gained as much as she gave: "I got a glimpse of the lives of these farmers, their dignity, hard work, and beautiful spirits. It was my privilege to do my part to help improve their lives."

Alonzo was no newcomer to overseas assignments. As an attorney at the US Environmental Protection Agency in Chicago during the early 1990s, she was appointed environmental attaché to the US Embassy in Mexico City - the agency's first diplomat to an embassy. There, she was an active player in the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations, becoming the point person on environmental issues.

In 1994, Alonzo was appointed deputy assistant secretary for the International Trade Administration at the US Department of Commerce, where she launched a global environmental trade promotion program to benefit US companies interested in emerging markets.

"She's sharp, she knows her stuff, and she's very personable," said Alonzo's Booth classmate Kim Marchand, '00 (XP-69), vice president for business development and marketing for the city of New Orleans. "Because she's worked in the political arena, she knows how to navigate bureaucracies nationally and internationally."

After her stint at the Commerce Department, Alonzo returned to Chicago to take a job in the private sector - at oil giant Amoco Corp. before it was acquired by BP plc in 1998. Her drive to better understand the detailed mechanics of how companies work spurred her to enroll in the Booth Executive MBA Program.

"I had regulated, interacted with, and counseled companies while I was a government official, but I hungered for more education and substance at this juncture in my career," she said. "I strived to understand, in more depth, just how companies worked and were governed, and I needed a foundational deep dive into the theory and knowledge of business."

She took from Booth a keen understanding of the foundations of companies and how they work, along with a deep respect for the quantitative world. It set her up for the next stops on her journey: first as senior vice president for the National Foreign Trade Council starting in 2000 and, seven years later, at Kraft and later, the World Cocoa Foundation. In 2011, she was recognized by HispanicBusiness magazine as one of the nation's "Corporate Elite" and, in 2005, as one of the year's 100 most influential hispanic leaders in the United States.

Booth's challenging requirements made the success of achieving the degree that much sweeter, and that perhaps explains why Alonzo remains so attached to her ever-growing collection of Booth t-shirts, which she often wears on airplanes. "I was determined to finish and finish well," she recalled. "It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but one of the most rewarding." - Terri Colby

Photo courtesy of Anne Alonzo

Last Updated 1/16/14